Sunday, August 5, 2007

Will MMA Lead to the Death of Boxing?

The rise in popularity of MMA is undeniable. The drop in popularity of boxing is undeniable. But are the two linked, and if so, can MMA's rise lead to the fall of boxing?

MMA leagues such as UFC, WEC, and IFL are competing with boxing for both talent and on-air exposure. And it can be argued that MMA is winning. While boxing is rarely seen on TV these days, MMA events are on all the time. The UFC is televised on Spike, WEC on Versus, and IFL on FSN. MMA is also getting coverage in daily newspapers, when just a few years ago it was only covered on the web.

Perhaps boxing's biggest challenge will be convincing young talent to join its leagues, rather than one of the MMA leagues. Boxing sorely needs a new big star along the line of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Mike Tyson. UFC's top star, Chuck Liddell, is more recognizable than any of the boxing's four heavyweight champions, Wladimir Klitschko, Oleg Maskaev, Ruslan Chagaev, and Sultan Ibragimov.

Personally, I think that boxing and MMA can co-exist and thrive, even. But first, boxing needs to clean up the corruption that make its title fights almost impossible to take seriously.

from Robert Cassidy of Newsday

Hall of Fame trainer Angelo Dundee has a saying for times like these: "Someone always comes along."

His theory has rung true for decades. Each time boxing fell out of the mainstream, a star emerged to make the sport matter again. Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson and Oscar De La Hoya were all viewed as boxing saviors. They possessed that blend of talent, toughness and charisma that enthralled not only boxing fans, but casual sports fans as well.

But what about now? With De La Hoya's talent waning and his career coming to a close, from where will the next star emerge? It may not be easy. Controversy has long courted boxing and it has become increasingly harder to bounce back. To the mainstream media, it has become a niche sport. Thus, the vehicles that once allowed the aforementioned stars to rise - daily newspaper coverage and network television exposure - are scarcely available to boxing.

Yet, someone always comes along, right?